Friday, July 24, 2015

Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” charted fifty years ago today (7/24/1965)

First posted 7/24/2011; updated 4/8/2020.

Like a Rolling Stone

Bob Dylan

Writer(s): Bob Dylan (see lyrics here)

Released: July 20, 1965

First Charted: July 24, 1965

Peak: 2 US, 11 CB, 2, HR, 1 CR, 4 UK, 2 CN, 7 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 31.3 video, -- streaming



It was only Bob Dylan’s second appearance on The Billboard Hot 100. His maiden hit on the chart was “Subterranean Homesick Blues”, just a few months earlier. This one, however, would be his biggest hit. Some might even call it the best rock song of all time.

“No other pop song has so thoroughly challenged and transformed the commercial laws and artistic conventions of its time.” RS500 Regarding Dylan’s 1965 Newport Folk Festival performance of this song, Joni Mitchell said, “The American folk song has grown up.” NPR Folk music fans had seen their genre as carrying intellectual import while rock-n-roll was “adolescent trash.” TB This song, however, proved that lyrical prowess need not be an impediment to commercial success BBC and suddenly rock was not just teen music, but an art form on par with any other. TB

Dylan wrote this not initially as a song, but, by varying accounts, “as a prose poem,” WI “extended piece of verse,” RS500 or a short story about a society girl who loses her status, BBC possibly even Andy Warhol protégé Edie Sedgwick. SF It was, he says, “just a rhythm thing on paper all about my steady hatred.” RS500

The song owes a debt to Al Kooper, for the signature “garage-gospel organ.” RS500 The instrument was outside the usual guitarist’s comfort zone, but Dylan liked what he heard and even had it turned up in the mix, despite the opening being an 1/8 note behind everyone else. SF

Guitar virtuoso Jimi Hendrix liked what he heard as well – regarding Dylan’s voice, that is. Reportedly, Dylan’s unconventional vocals, “nasal and nasty, raw as barbed wire,” MA served as an inspiration to the legendary musician to see himself as more than just a guitarist. SF

Resources and Related Links:

Saturday, July 18, 2015

7/18/2015: “See You Again” spends 12th week at #1

Last updated 3/15/2020.

See You Again

Wiz Khalifa with Charlie Puth

Writer(s): Andrew Cedar, Justin Franks, Charlie Puth, Cameron Thomaz (see lyrics here)

Released: March 10, 2015

First Charted: March 28, 2015

Peak: 112 US, 14 RR, 13 AC, 2 A40, 114 RB, 12 UK, 18 CN, 16 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 10.0 US, 0.73 UK, 13.22 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 4320.0 video, 952.0 streaming


About the Song:

The Fast and Furious movie franchise, starring Paul Walker and Vin Diesel, focused on fast cars and racing. In a sad twist of fate, Walker died in a car accident in 2013. For the seventh movie in the franchise, producers wanted a song to serve as a goodbye to Walker. Charlie Puth, who’d penned “Slow Motion” by Trey Songz, answered the call for demos, imagining a final text from Diesel to Walker saying, “I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again.” SF

Puth was paired with Justin Franks, i.e. DJ Frank E, by his publishing company. WK The two shared a common bond which inspired the song – both lost friends to motorcycle accidents. Puth’s friend, Vail Cerullo, was a fellow student at Berklee College of Music and predicted Puth would write a #1 song. SF

One account suggests Puth was surprised to find out his vocal would be used in the song, SF but he told The Talk TV show that he refused to contribute the song unless he sang the hook. WK His vocal wasn’t the only one on the song, however. Wiz Khalifa was also commissed to add rap verses, which he crafted around the subject of family. WK

The song started at the bottom of the Billboard Hot 100, but picked up steam quickly, setting a record with its five-week ascent to the top for the fastest climb from #100 to #1. Only ten songs accomplished that feat; one of them was Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow.” SF The song’s twelve weeks atop the chart tied Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” as the longest run at #1 for a rap song. SF It was the biggest-selling song in the world in 2015. WK

“See You Again” broke the record for Spotify’s most-streamed track in a single day with 4.26 million streams on April 17, 2015. SF In July 2017, it became the all-time most-watched music video on YouTube, surpassing the 2.8 billion views of PSY’s “Gangnam Style.” SF Its reign wasn’t long; the next month it was passed by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito.” SF

Resources and Related Links:

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Three Cheers for Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll

image from

I’m into Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll. The show. I mean the show.

Fans of Denis Leary's stand-up comedy and TV shows like The Job and Rescue Me know to expect a no-holds-barred, brash style which will have an insightful, yet brutal, honesty. With the possible exception of his voice work in the animated Ice Age movies, Leary could never be accused of being warm, cuddly, and lovable. Thus it should come as no surprise that Leary’s talent for in-your-face, deeply-flawed characters is on full display in the new FX series Rock & Roll.

Leary isn’t out to glamorize the rock lifestyle or make himself look cool. Johnny Rock, lead singer of the Heathens, is an egotistical jerk unaware of how much he looks like an idiot with his childish behavior. He boasts in a bar about a younger woman’s attraction to him, only to find himself punched in the crotch when it turns out to be his daughter.

As the daughter, Elizabeth Gillies holds her own with Leary. She insists he revive his songwriting partnership with Heathens’ guitarist Flash (played by John Corbett) to boost her career. Instead of seeing an opportunity to connect with the daughter he never knew he had, Leary sees only dollar signs. By the end, however, his own twisted version of fatherly protectiveness sets up a hilarious scene where he lambasts his bandmates for objectifying his daughter.

Based on Leary’s track record, this won’t veer into sappy territory with touching scenes of father and daughter bonding. He’ll continue his bad behavior and frustrate everyone around him. She will prove to be the only one capable of taming him. I’m sold.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Rolling Stones hit #1 with “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” 50 years ago today (7/10/1965)

Last updated 4/8/2020.

(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

The Rolling Stones

Writer(s): Mick Jagger, Keith Richard (see lyrics here)

Released: June 6, 1965

First Charted: June 12, 1965

Peak: 14 US, 14 CB, 13 HR, 19 RB, 1 CL, 12 UK, 3 CN, 11 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.2 UK, 5.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 6.0 radio, 94.4 video, 260.0 streaming



This song, more than any other featured in my first Dave’s Music Database book, The Top 100 Songs of the Rock Era, 1954-1999 tempted me to fudge. That book ranked the top 100 songs strictly as the database showed them, but hey, it is my database. Couldn’t I manipulate it to ensure that the guitar riff that most single-handedly represents rock-n-roll tops the list? No. Then I’d want to bump songs from the list, add others, etc. So, despite often being hailed as the best rock song of all time and “one of the defining records of...its era,” AMG a completely by-the-numbers approach puts “Satisfaction” a notch lower than I’d prefer. [It ranks #2 in the book].

Stones’ guitarist Keith Richards said the riff, inspired by Martha & the Vandellas’ “Dancing in the Street,” GU came to him in a dream. He grabbed a guitar, taped the music, and fell back to sleep. RS500 “The next morning I listened to the tape,” he recalls. “There was about two minutes of...a very rough riff of ‘Satisfaction’ and then me snoring for 40 minutes.” HL

The next day, singer Mick Jagger penned his attack on American commercialism in ten minutes. RS500 Within a week, the Stones were in the studio recording the song. SF Gibson had sent Richards a fuzz box, which he used to sketch out what he thought would be a horn section. He told Rolling Stone that when he heard Otis Redding’s version, he said “shit, that was more what I had in mind.” RSP

Richards and Jagger didn’t want to release it, but were outvoted by their band mates who wanted what they considered an unusual sound for a rock record. SF A mere three weeks after being recorded, ”Satisfaction” saw U.S. release. SF It was issued in the U.K. only after its U.S. success. AMG It was the Stones’ first chart topper on both sides of the pond and the biggest song of 1965. WHC

Resources and Related Links:

  • The Rolling Stones’ DMDB Music Maker Encyclopedia entry
  • AMG All Music Guide review by Richie Unterberger
  • GU Edna Gundersen (1/14/2000). “VH1 picks 100 greatest songs.” USA Today. Page 8E.
  • HL Michael Heatley and Spencer Leigh (1998). Behind the Song: The Stories of 100 Great Pop & Rock Classics. London, England: Blandford Books. Page 22.
  • RS500 Rolling Stone (2004). “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
  • RSP Rolling Stone (September 8, 1988; Issue 534). “The 100 Best Singles of the Last 25 Years.” New York, NY; Straight Arrow Publishing Company.
  • SF Songfacts
  • WHC Joel Whitburn (1999). A Century of Pop Music. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Page 90.